United Kingdom

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Information about biofuels and bioenergy in the United Kingdom.

Contents

Events

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

Policies/Issues

  • Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation
    • Starting in 2008 the RTFO will "place an obligation on fuel suppliers to ensure that a certain percentage of their aggregate sales is made up of biofuels. The effect of this will be to require 5% of all UK fuel sold on UK forecourts to come from a renewable source by 2010."[1]
    • Renewable Fuel Certificates will be issued, which can be traded by companies.
    • Biofuel producers will have to report on the green-house gas balance, and environmental impact of their biofuels.
    • This information will be used to develop sustainability standards, which may be imposed on any extension of the RTFO.[1]
    • The July 2008 report of the Gallagher Review called for slowing down the UK's biofuels goals.
      • The review found that "The introduction of biofuels should be slowed until effective controls are in place to prevent land use change and higher food prices."[1]
      • The review recommended that "the rate of increase of the UK's biofuels target should be reduced to 0.5% per annum. Targets beyond 5% by volume should only be implemented beyond 2013/14 if biofuels are shown to be demonstrably sustainable, including avoiding indirect land-use change. These higher targets should include a specific obligation on companies to use advanced technologies."[2]
  • Small biofuel producer policy -
    • The UK is eliminating duties and permit and return requirements for people who produce less then 2,500 L/yr of biofuels.[2]
    • This will allow people to produce biofuel, most likely biodiesel, for personal use without having to deal with regulations designed for business.

Reports/Papers

News

2012

  • Single spark sends 10% of UK's renewable energy capacity up in smoke , 28 February 2012 by ClickGreen: "Fire investigators believe a spark from machinery triggered the huge fire that swept through Europe's biggest biomass power plant yesterday."
    • "Firefighters spent more than 15 hours tackling the fire at the Tilbury power plant on the banks of the River Thames in Essex...."
    • "The fire involved between 4,000 and 6,000 tonnes of wood pellet fuel in storage cells - at least two of the bunkers were destroyed in the fire...."
    • "In early 2011, RWE npower was granted the necessary consents from the Environment Agency and Local Planning Authority to convert all three of the power station’s units to generate power from 100% sustainable biomass...."
    • "The UK has signed up to achieve a legally binding target of 15% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. The Department of Energy and Climate Change estimates as much as half of that may be generated from biomass, which includes municipal waste, wood pellets and straw...."[3]
  • Biofuel feedstocks must prove their green credentials, 12 January 2012 by Farmers Weekly: "Under the Renewable Energy Directive, which recently came into effect in the UK, mandatory sustainability and carbon targets have been set for all biofuels sold in Europe."
    • "This complex regulation requires biofuel manufacturers to demonstrate that the feedstocks they use comply with minimum land sustainability standards and give at least a 35% greenhouse gas emissions saving over their fossil fuel equivalent."
    • "The introduction of a 'sustainability' declaration on grain passports last season, combined with updates to the Red Tractor crops scheme...is designed to address the RED land sustainability requirement by guaranteeing crops are not grown on land with a high biodiversity value or high carbon value (eg peat land) and that the land meets cross-compliance requirements."
    • "But it is the GHG saving requirement of the RED that has generated some concern, because of the use of 'default values' when calculating the total carbon footprint of different feedstocks, says Ian Waller of Fivebargate consultants...."
    • "Regional carbon footprint numbers for different crops are defined in official reports for each country - the UK calculations were done for the Department for Transport by consultancy AEA. But this report (known as NUTS2) suggests only a few areas of the UK have a lower GHG footprint than the required RED threshold for oilseed rape, none of which are in prime arable regions. This casts a question mark over how easily oilseed rape from such regions could go into biofuel markets in the future, Mr Waller says."[4]

2011

  • Biomass for fuel could damage furniture industry, 17 December 2011 by Green Building Press: "Concerns have been expressed about the effect that government directives which encourage the burning of wood are likely to have on British manufacturing. Furniture Industry Research Association (FIRA) and the British Furniture Confederation (BFC) held a meeting at the House of Lords this week to launch a report commissioned by FIRA."
    • "The organisation's document focuses on the Renewables Obligation Woody Biomass Subsidy and the detrimental effect it is having on the British furniture industry...."
    • "The document outlines a series of recommendations on how the Government can ensure that manufacturers are allowed to continue business without facing the difficulty of coping with rising prices from the woody biomass subsidy distortion...."
    • "With increased costs for furniture production, it follows that furniture product prices for the consumer will also increase. This is especially poignant as the subsidy paid for burning renewable fuel is paid by consumers through their electricity bill. This means consumers are paying for a renewable energy form which distorts the market perversely against them as both a consumer and also to British manufacturing."
    • "Over its life time, burning woody biomass also emits significantly greater CO2 than wood panel manufacturing. The report suggests that the biomass subsidy should not encourage the burning of virgin wood, which could be used productively through its lifecycle, before being burnt for fuel. It suggests that furniture at the end of its lifecycle is burnt for fuel, rather than placed in landfill."
    • "In addition, the report discusses how biomass stations relying on wood imports from abroad are a threat to the world’s forests and may even increase climate-change emissions."[5]
  • Advanced biofuels could meet almost half of UK green transport needs, 18 November 2011 by Greenwise: "A new generation of biofuels could meet almost half of Britain’s renewable transport needs, but without them the UK will miss its 2020 target, a new Government-commissioned report warns."
    • "The study, by the National Centre for Biorenewable Energy, Fuels and Materials (NNFCC), suggests second-generation biofuels, such as that derived from household rubbish, could meet up to 4.3 per cent of the UK’s renewable transport fuel target by 2020 – almost half of the 10 per cent target the UK must meet under the European Union Renewable Energy Directive."
    • "Vegetable oils currently provide most of the UK’s renewable fuel, but due to limited availability and competing demands for sustainable vegetable oils, the NNFCC says conventional biofuels are likely to produce only up to 6.6 per cent of the energy needed in road and rail transport by 2020."
    • "The NNFCC report predicts that for advanced biofuels to meet the 4.3 per cent of the UK’s renewable transport needs will require around one million tonnes of woody biomass, two million tonnes of wheat (butanol) and 4.4 million tonnes of household, commercial and industrial wastes."[6]
  • Advanced Biofuels Required for UK to See RED, 17 November 2011 by Waste Management World: "The UK is at risk of missing its renewable transport targets without significant investment in a new generation of biofuels, according to a recently published government study."
    • "Under the EU's Renewable Energy Directive (RED), member states will be required to meet 10% of the energy used for road and rail transportation from renewable sources by 2020."
    • "Currently, most of the country's renewable fuel is derived from vegetable oils. However, due to limited availability and competing demands for sustainable vegetable oils, the study argues that conventional biofuels are likely to produce just 3.7% to 6.6% of the required 10% target."
    • "In assessing the how and if the UK will meet the Eu target, NNFCC drew up two illustrative scenarios to examine how the industry could develop in the UK."
    • "Under a modest development scenario, and assuming that advanced biofuels produced from waste feedstocks are eligible to count double towards the RED, advanced biofuel production in the UK could contribute 2.1%age points toward the UK's 10% renewable fuels in transport target."
    • "Under the same assumptions, with favourable economic conditions and strong improvements in policy, a strong development scenario could see advanced biofuels produced from waste and lignocellulosic feedstocks could contribute 4.3% points toward the UK's 10% renewable fuels in transport target."[7]
  • UK firm's failed biofuel dream wrecks lives of Tanzania villagers, 29 October 2011 by The Guardian: "A quarter of the village's land in Kisarawe district was acquired by a British biofuels company in 2008, with the promise of financial compensation, 700 jobs, water wells, improved schools, health clinics and roads."
    • "But the company has gone bust, leaving villagers not just jobless but landless as well."
    • "The tale of London-based Sun Biofuels's misadventure in Kisarawe links the broken hopes of the villagers to offshore tax havens and mysterious new owners, tracked down by the Observer, and ultimately to petrol pumps in the UK and across Europe. The final link results from the mandatory blending of biofuels into European petrol and diesel."
    • "The aim is to reduce carbon emissions, but many say biofuels actually increase pollution."
    • "'The situation in Kisarawe is heartbreaking, but the real tragedy is that it is far from unique. Communities across Africa and beyond are losing their land as a result of the massive biofuel targets set by our government,' said Josie Cohen at development group ActionAid, which works in Kisarawe."
    • "The thirst for biofuels to meet the UK and EU's rising targets has led British companies to lead the charge into Africa. Half the 3.2m hectares of biofuel land identified is linked to 11 British companies, the biggest proportion of any country."[8]
  • Biofuels growth stifled by EU policy delays: BP, 18 October 2011 by Reuters: "Biofuels for use in transport are becoming more competitive compared with oil but the pace of growth has slowed due to a lack of regulation and sustainability standards in Europe, the chief executive of BP's biofuels division said."
    • "'In the UK, biofuels get no tax breaks whatsoever. The biggest obstacle (to biofuel growth) is uncertainty around the future of mandates and clear (European Union) sustainability standards,' Philip New of BP Biofuels told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday."
    • "EU policymakers are currently debating the green credentials of some biofuels and should present proposals for approval by EU governments and lawmakers before the end of the year. However, legislation might not emerge for several years."
    • "Critics say some biofuels production can occupy land that would otherwise be used for agricultural purposes, thus limiting food and water resources for a rapidly rising world population."
    • "Some biofuel production could also increase carbon emissions, especially if rainforests are cut down to facilitate production."[9]
  • Biomass schemes will boost destructive timber imports, claims wood industry, 11 September 2011 by The Guardian: "Big wood companies are trying to halt Drax, RWE and others pressing ahead with a raft of lower-carbon energy schemes which would see large power stations switch from burning coal to timber."
    • "The wood industry fears thousands of jobs in its factories will be threatened by the 'green' power plans and wants government to remove the subsidies facilitating them."
    • "Wildlife and environmental groups are also alarmed that the new biomass schemes could trigger a huge escalation in wood imports and threaten rainforests."
    • "The Wood Panel Industries Association said: 'We have already seen a 50% increase in wood prices over the last three years because of these kinds of energy developments and we do not think they should be receiving subsidies for schemes which we believe are not carbon-friendly and which will require a huge amount of imported wood to support a tenfold increase in planned capacity.'"
    • "A DECC spokesman said the department was aware of concerns from interest groups about a major escalation in biomass but said it had safeguards in place. 'The very clear sustainability criteria we now have in place under the renewables obligation will mean we know where biomass has come from and how it has been grown.'"
    • "The current subsidy regime for biomass and other clean technology such as wind power runs until 2013."[10]
  • Britain’s biomass demand will affect climate, wildlife – R.S.P.B., 7 September 2011 by EcoSeed: "United Kingdom charity group Royal Society for the Protection of Birds revealed in a report that Britain's increasing demand for biomass could lead to serious damage to wildlife and climate."
    • "The report showed that the proposed scale of British biomass development will surpass the continent's domestic fuel supply. Currently, the country's biomass industry heavily relies on domestic supplies amounting to 74 percent."
    • "However, changes on the use of biomass may yield to dependence on biomass imports from countries such as Canada, the United States, Russia, and the Baltic states."
    • "R.S.P.B. believes that Britain is capable of having a sustainable bioenergy sector based on wastes and domestic feedstocks if the government acts to encourage more sustainable technologies at appropriate scales, rules out subsidies for large-scale electricity production dependent on imported wood, improves sustainability standards, and fully accounts for all emissions from bioenergy."[11]
  • Ghana sees first biomass supply chain project, 2 September 2011 by Biomass Power and Thermal: "Africa Renewables Ltd., headquartered in London, is actively recruiting for more than 70 new forestry and biomass production jobs in Ghana to support the country's first wood chip supply chain venture."
    • "The project will harvest redundant rubber trees from the Ghana Rubber Estates Ltd. plantation for chipping and sale to European utilities and energy traders, according to Jamie Wynn-Williams, spokesperson for Africa Renewables."
    • "The project, located between the GREL plantation and the port of Takoradi, will also include the development of a 5 hectare (12 acres) storage depot to house wood chips between monthly shipments, a spare part store and a mechanical workshop."
    • "Africa Renewables will provide the appropriate training required for the operation of forestry equipment, with new jobs at every level of the project logistics chain from initial felling of trees to harvesting, processing and eventual delivery of biomass to cargo ships for export."[12]
  • Seaweed could have important biofuel role, say scientists, 6 July 2011 by WalesOnline.co.uk: "Researchers at Aberystwyth University say kelp seaweed could provide an important alternative to land-based biofuels, but the suitability of its chemical composition varies with the seasons."
    • "They say harvesting the kelp in July, when carbohydrate levels are at their highest, would ensure optimal sugar release for the production of biofuel."
    • "Kelp can be converted to biofuels through fermentation or anaerobic digestion – to produce ethanol and methane – or pyrolysis, to produce bio-oil through a method of heating the fuel without oxygen. But the chemical composition of the seaweed is important for these processes to be effective."
    • "Land-based plants have been the focus of most biofuel research. But biofuels have a disadvantage as they create conflict between using land to grow either food or fuel. Marine ecosystems are considered an untapped resource that could address this conflict, and provide for over half of global biomass energy."[13]
  • Biofuels land grab in Kenya's Tana Delta fuels talk of war, 2 July 2011 by The Guardian: "[E]viction of the [Gamba Manyatta] villagers to make way for a sugar cane plantation is part of a wider land grab going on in Kenya's Tana Delta that is not only pushing people off plots they have farmed for generations, stealing their water resources and raising tribal tensions that many fear will escalate into war, but also destroying a unique wetland habitat that is home to hundreds of rare and spectacular birds."
    • "The irony is that most of the land is being taken for allegedly environmental reasons – to allow private companies to grow water-thirsty sugar cane and jatropha for the biofuels so much in demand in the west, where green legislation, designed to ease carbon dioxide emissions, is requiring they are mixed with petrol and diesel."
    • "The delta's people are trying to fight their own government over the huge blocks of land being turned over to companies including the Canadian company, Bedford Biofuels, which was this year granted a licence by the Kenyan environmental regulator for a 10,000-hectare jatropha 'pilot' project. A UK-based firm, G4 Industries Ltd, has been awarded a licence for 28,000 hectares."[14]
  • UK scientists launch scathing criticism of EU biofuel targets, 2 June 2011 by The Ecologist: "A global 'land grab' and increased loss of forests and other natural ecosystems is being driven by European targets for more transport fuel to come from biofuels, say a group of prominent UK scientists."
    • "The biofuels target was originally designed to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions but in a letter sent to the transport minister Philip Hammond, and seen by the Ecologist, 19 prominent scientists from across the UK say crop-based biofuels will actually 'substantially increase emissions'."
    • "According to the scientists, in a rush to promote biofues both the UK and EU had failed to take account of two factors - the high-use of nitrogen fertilisers and land-use change brought about by the increasing demand for land to grow biofuel crops instead of food."
    • "'The additional demand for grains, oilseeds and sugars brought about by increased biofuel production will indirectly bring about the conversion of land currently under forest or other natural ecosystem into agricultural land, with the concomitant release into the atmosphere of carbon stored in trees and soil,' says the letter."[15]
  • Biofuels boom in Africa as British firms lead rush on land for plantations, 31 May 2011 by The Guardian: "British firms have acquired more land in Africa for controversial biofuel plantations than companies from any other country, a Guardian investigation has revealed."
    • "Liquid fuels made from plants – such as bioethanol – are hailed by some as environmentally-friendly replacements for fossil fuels. Because they compete for land with crop plants, biofuels have also been linked to record food prices and rising hunger. There are also fears they can increase greenhouse gas emissions."
    • "A market has been created by British and EU laws requiring the blending of rising amounts of biofuels into petrol and diesel, but the rules were condemned as unethical and "backfiring badly" in April by a Nuffield Council on Bioethics commission."
    • "In the Guardian survey Italy is the next biggest player with seven companies, followed by Germany (six), France (six) and the US (four). Brazil and China have been acquiring land in Africa for biofuels and food but the investigation identified only a handful of established biofuels projects."[16]
  • New CSPO deal means palm oil certs no longer needed, says NBPOL, 12 May 2011 by FoodandDrinkEurope.com: "New Britain Palm Oil Limited (NBPOL) and Wilmar International have agreed to process and jointly market palm oil in Europe."
    • "The deal is said to involve the refinement at Wilmar’s Brake refinery in Germany of up to 300,000 tonnes per annum of fully traceable certified segregated palm oil (CSPO) from NBPOL’s estates."
    • "This deal, commented Alan Chaytor, executive director of NBPOL, ensures that fully segregated, traceable and certified sustainable and affordable palm oil will be made available in enough product specifications and formats that 'food manufacturers throughout Europe will no longer need to buy palm oil offset certificates.'"
    • "Chaytor said that under the current certificate trading system, buyers have little idea where their oil actually comes from and 'the vast majority is from uncertified sources.'"
    • "Chaytor claims that due to the scale and efficiency of the arrangement with Wilmar, coupled with its Liverpool refinery, the two firms can offer a huge range of fully traceable and certified oils with commodity style economics that make it more affordable."[17]
  • Growing biomass on unused land can help meet energy needs, study finds, 11 April 2011 by Green Economy: "The UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) found that biomass could be used to generate four per cent of the UK's electricity demand and one per cent of the UK's energy demand if planted on unused agricultural land, thereby helping the UK meet its targets of 15 per cent energy and 30 per cent electricity from renewable resources by 2020."
    • "The UKERC study found that there's enough agricultural land available to produce biomass crops without disrupting food production or the environment."
    • "The research suggests that 7.5 million tonnes of biomass, probably poplar and willow, could be generated from 0.8 million hectares. These plants in particular would be beneficial because they do not require high-quality land for growth, but crops such as wheat and maize do."[18]
  • Renewable Fuels Agency closes, 25 March 2011 by 24dash.com: "The agency tasked with regulating biofuels entering the UK market and encouraging their sustainability will close its doors for the last time next week."
    • "On Thursday, 31 March the Renewable Fuels Agency (RFA) will be dissolved as part of a wider review of arms-length government bodies. Its duties will be transferred to the Department for Transport."
    • "In its brief history, the Renewable Fuels Agency has been responsible for several achievements that went beyond good practice and set the scene for a more sustainable supply of biofuels."
    • "Above all, it has established a system allowing the provenance of fuels to be tracked from farm to fuel supplier."
    • "It has delivered real, demonstrable changes in the procurement policy of major oil companies leading to better environmental and social outcomes – many of the obligated suppliers’ annual sustainability reports outline how they have been influenced by the RTFO with some reporting real changes to their biofuel strategy in response to the regulation or conversations with the RFA."
    • "It has produced the figures that back up the assumption that there are good biofuels and bad biofuels – its regular reports cut through the background chatter and allow comparison of feedstocks based on facts rather than opinion."[19]
  • Two-thirds of UK biofuel fails green standard, figures show, 27 January 2011 by the Guardian: "Less than one-third of the biofuel used on UK roads meets government environmental standards intended to protect water supplies, soil quality and carbon stocks, according to new figures."
    • "The Renewable Fuels Agency says that just 31% of the biofuel supplied under the government's initiative to use fuel from plants to help tackle climate change met its green standard. For the remaining 69% of the biofuel, suppliers could not say where it came from, or could not prove it was produced in a sustainable way, the figures show."
    • "In April 2008, suppliers began mixing biofuel into all petrol and diesel supplies under the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO), and by 2009-10 – the time period to which these latest figures relate – biofuels accounted for 3.3% of UK transport fuels. Suppliers were supposed to ensure that 50% of biofuel met government environmental standards, but the target is not mandatory and was not met."
    • "The majority of UK biofuel is imported. Biodiesel from soy was the single biggest source (31%) in 2009/10, with a large increase in Argentinian soy compared to the previous year, something that Friends of the Earth biofuels campaigner Kenneth Richter calls a 'huge cause for concern'."[20]

2010

  • Royal Society issues new climate change guide that admits there are 'uncertainties' about the science, 30 September 2010 by The Daily Mail: "The UK’s leading scientific body has been forced to rewrite its guide on climate change and admit that it is not known how much warmer the Earth will become."
    • "The Royal Society has updated its guide after 43 of its members complained that the previous version failed to take into account the opinion of climate change sceptics."
    • "Now the new guide, called 'Climate change: a summary of the science', admits that there are some 'uncertainties' regarding the science behind climate change."
    • "The 19-page guide says: 'It is not possible to determine exactly how much the Earth will warm or exactly how the climate will change in the future, but careful estimates of potential changes and associated uncertainties have been made.'"
    • "The new guidance still makes it clear that human activity is one of the likely causes for climate change but now does so in a more considered way."[21]
  • UK biofuels 'falling short' on environmental standards, 31 August 2010 by BBC: "The Renewable Fuels Agency says it is disappointed that the vast majority of biofuels sold on UK forecourts do not conform to environmental standards."
    • "The body said fuel suppliers were meeting legally binding volume targets but some were falling 'well short' on achieving voluntary green standards."
    • "Figures released by the RFA show that just 33% of biofuels met an environmental standard, well short of the 50% goal for 2009/10."
    • "Currently under the RTFO, only the volume target is mandatory; the carbon savings and environmental standards goals were voluntary."
    • "However, this is set to change when the EU Renewable Fuel Directive (RED) comes into force at the end of the year, which will expect member states to ensure the biofuels meet both environmental and carbon saving criteria."
    • "Under RED, member states will also be expected to ensure that 10% of transport fuel is from a renewable source by 2020."[22]
  • Banks Grow Wary of Environmental Risks, 31 August 2010 by New York Times: "After years of legal entanglements arising from environmental messes and increased scrutiny of banks that finance the dirtiest industries, several large commercial lenders are taking a stand on industry practices that they regard as risky to their reputations and bottom lines."
  • Ethanol Credits Have A Major Beneficiary In Big Oil Firms, 2 July 2010 by National Journal/Congress Daily: "BP could stand to reap [U.S.] federal tax credits approaching $600 million this year for blending gasoline with corn-based ethanol, making the British oil and gas giant one of the largest beneficiaries of the 45 cents-per-gallon ethanol incentive."
    • "The credit expires Dec. 31, and the House Ways and Means Committee is preparing as early as next month to debate a 'green jobs' bill eyed as a vehicle for an extension."
    • "On BP's website, the firm states: 'As one of the largest blenders and marketers of biofuels in the nation, we blended over 1 billion gallons of ethanol with gasoline in 2008 alone.' Extrapolating from Energy Information Administration data on 2009 refining capacity, BP is estimated to have produced about 11.5 billion gallons of gasoline."[24]
  • UK looks to produce 70bn litres of biofuel a year from pondlife, 19 March 2010 by ClickGreen staff: "The 'dream team' of eleven leading UK institutions was unveiled who will work together with the Carbon Trust to find a winning formula for cultivating 70 billion litres of algae biofuel a year by 2030."
    • "Algae has the potential to deliver 5 to 10 times more oil per hectare than conventional cropland biofuels and new Carbon Trust lifecycle analysis indicates that, over time, it could provide carbon savings of up to 80% compared to fossil fuel petrol and jet fuel."
    • "Production of 70 billion litres will require man-made algae ponds equivalent to a landmass larger than Wales to be built in optimum locations across the world. " [26]
  • (U.K.'s largest power station) Drax suspends plan to replace coal with greener fuel, 19 February 2010 by Times Online: "Britain’s biggest power station has suspended its plan to replace coal with greener fuel, leaving the Government little chance of meeting its target for renewable energy."
    • "The power station, which is the country’s largest single source of CO2, has invested £80 million in a processing unit for wood, straw and other plant-based fuels, known as biomass."
    • "Drax is also one of dozens of companies delaying investments in new biomass power stations because of uncertainty over the Government’s policy on long-term subsidies. Hundreds of farmers growing biomass crops may now struggle to sell their produce."
    • "Drax’s decision will make it almost impossible for the Government to meet its commitment to increase the proportion of electricity from renewable sources from 5.5 per cent to 30 per cent by 2020."
    • "The Renewable Energy Association said that plans for more than 50 biomass projects, totalling £13 billion of investment, had been suspended because of uncertainty over policy."[27]
  • Global deal on climate change in 2010 'all but impossible', 1 February 2010 by The Guardian: "A global deal to tackle climate change is all but impossible in 2010, leaving the scale and pace of action to slow global warming in coming decades uncertain, according to senior figures across the world involved in the negotiations."
    • "'The forces trying to tackle climate change are in disarray, wandering in small groups around the battlefield like a beaten army,' said a senior British diplomat."
    • "Many of those contacted say only a legally binding deal setting "top-down" global limits on emissions can ultimately avoid the worst impacts of rising temperatures. But a global deal at the next major climate summit in Mexico is impossible, says the former deputy prime minister John Prescott".[29]
'Just four per cent of biofuels imported from abroad are sustainably produced - the vast majority are causing deforestation and land use changes that are increasing climate changing emissions and pushing people off their land.
'Biofuels are not the answer to our energy woes - the UK should scrap its targets and must focus our attention on developing greener transport alternatives to cars, such as fast and affordable rail services and cycling and walking.'"[30]

2009

  • Oil giants destroy rainforests to make palm oil diesel for motorists, 15 August 2009 by TimesOnline: "Fuel companies are accelerating the destruction of rainforest by secretly adding palm oil to diesel that is sold to millions of British motorists."
    • "Twelve oil companies supplied a total of 123 million litres of palm oil to filling stations in the year to April, according to official figures obtained by The Times."
    • "Only 15 per cent of the palm oil came from plantations that met any kind of environmental standard. Much of the rest came from land previously occupied by rainforest."[31]
  • British Fight Climate Change With Fish and Chips, 21 February 2009 by the New York Times: "Last year, when the price of crude oil topped $147 a barrel, a number of large companies in Europe and the United States were spurred to set up plants to collect and refine used cooking oil into biodiesel."
    • "The global recession and the steep drop in oil prices have now killed many of those large refining ventures. But smaller, simpler ones...are moving in to fill the void with their direct-to-tank product, having been deluged by offers of free oil from restaurants."
    • "Used cooking oil has attracted growing attention in recent years as a cleaner, less expensive alternative to fossil fuels for vehicles. In many countries, including the United States, the oil is collected by companies and refined into a form of diesel. Some cities use it in specially modified municipal buses or vans. And the occasional environmentalist has experimented with individually filtering the oil and using it as fuel."[32]
  • UK gets biofuels research centre, 27 January 2009 by BBC News: "A centre that will act as the hub for biofuels research has been launched by Science Minister Lord Drayson....The £27m institute has been tasked with developing economically competitive and environmentally sound alternatives to fossil fuels."
    • "The Sustainable Bioenergy Centre, which will have hubs at six universities - including Cambridge, Dundee, York and Nottingham - has been established by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)."
    • "By working closely with industrial partners, the centre's scientists will be able to quickly translate their progress into practical solutions to all our benefit and ultimately, by supporting the sustainable bioenergy sector, help to create thousands of new 'green collar' jobs in the UK."
    • The "UK government introduced the 'Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation' in April 2008, which required 2.5% of all the fuel sold at petrol stations to be biofuels....Ministers originally had intended to increase this to 5% by 2010, but accepted a recommendation by the Gallagher Review to delay this until at least 2013."[33]
  • Biofuels ad banned by ASA after George Monbiot complaint, 14 January 2009 by The Guardian: "A complaint to the advertising watchdog by Guardian columnist and environmental campaigner George Monbiot has caused a national press ad claiming biofuels offer a sustainable alternative to oil to be banned."
    • "Monbiot, who has previously argued against the idea of sustainable biofuels in the Guardian, lodged a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority that the RFA claim in the press campaign was misleading."
    • "The ASA...said that the Gallagher review, commissioned in the UK by the secretary of state for transport, concluded that only with strict policies on where biofuel production could be allowed would it be viable after 2020. Without such strict policies, biofuel production would 'result in net greenhouse emissions and loss of biodiversity through habitat destruction'."
    • "The watchdog concluded that 'at the present time' references to biofuels in general as sustainable were likely to mislead and banned the ad for breaking the advertising code."[34]

2008

  • Clean-burning biomass cookstoves launched 10, December 2008 by Express News Service:
    • "Designed by an international team of globally recognised scientists and engineers, the cookstoves are designed to reduce toxic emissions by as much as 80 per cent while using 50 per cent less fuel and reducing the cooking cycle time by 40 per cent."
    • "The stoves have been developed as result of the partnership between Envirofit and Shell Foundation, UK, to deliver clean burning biomass stoves that are affordable and attractive to people who are impacted by indoor air pollution." [35]
  • British biofuels hit the environmental mark, 12 October 2008 by Farmer's Weekly: "Nearly all (97%) of biofuels sourced from British feedstocks met the government’s RTFO (Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation) environmental standards, according to the first report by the Renewable Fuels Agency (RFA) – the body set up to administer the RTFO. That compared with just 20% for all biofuels used by UK fuel companies."
    • "Speaking on behalf of the biofuel industry, the Renewable Energy Association’s Clare Wenner said the findings clearly showed the UK biofuels industry was delivering on its promises to provide biofuels that both made greenhouse gas savings and were produced in a sustainable way."
    • "The report also showed that an overall carbon reduction of 44% was achieved against a government target of 40%."[36]
  • Europe to reaffirm biofuels targets, 10 September 2008 by guardian.co.uk: "The European parliament will tomorrow reaffirm binding targets for biofuels in transport and for renewables in energy use in the face of growing political resistance."
    • "MEPs on the parliament's key industry committee will set a mandatory target of 5% of biofuels in transport by 2015, rising to 10% by 2020."
    • "They will also defy objections from several governments, including Britain, and approve in principle a system of penalties for countries which fail to meet interim targets for renewable energy."
  • Climate Camp targets biofuel site, 7 August 2008 by BBC News: "Environment demonstrators have targeted a biofuel depot in Essex as part of a week-long Climate Camp being held across the River Thames in Kent."
    • "The climate activists are concerned about the impact petrol and diesel, made from plant materials, are having on the environment."
    • "'Far from being a solution to climate change, agrofuels are so damaging they make petroleum look green,' said Climate Camp spokesman George Monbiot."[39]
  • Most biofuels fail to meet environmental standards, 8 August 2008 by MotorsToday, UK: "Less than a fifth of biofuels in UK vehicle tanks meet environmental standards, new data on the fuels shows."
    • "The first monthly report on the supply of biofuels showed that 19% met standards aimed at preventing problems such as deforestation, loss of wildlife, pollution and water contamination".
    • "The report from the Renewable Fuels Agency also showed that both the plant crop used and the country it came from are only known in slightly more than half (57%) of biofuels".
    • "It also said greenhouse gas savings of 42% on conventional fuels were achieved - but that did not take into account the possible emissions associated with "indirect" impacts such as clearing forests for cropland."
  • 'Splash and dash' hits UK biofuels firm, 9 April 2008 by the Guardian: "The enormous damage being done by "splash and dash" imports of American biodiesel were highlighted today when one of the UK's leading operators, D1 Oils, said it was closing down all its refining operations in Britain after running up a £46m loss annual loss."
    • "Splash and dash is where biodiesel is carried to the US by ship - sometimes from Europe - purely to add a drop of ordinary diesel and take advantage of public money" for refining.[40]

2007

  • UK minister confirms backing for biofuels but highlights need for sustainabilty, 30 March 2007 from Biofuelreview.com. "While outlining the UK government's backing for the development of the biofuels sector yesterday (29th March), transport Minister, Stephen Ladyman, nevertheless highlighted the need for sustainability in the market" while speaking at a renewable fuels conference.
    • He stated that "Biofuels can offer many environmental benefits such as carbon savings, reduced air pollution and waste reduction. But we still have to recognise the dangers of destabilising land prices, over-stimulating the use of fertilisers and pesticides to grow energy crops, as well as the risks to biodiversity and soil quality."

2006

Organizations

Academic organizations

Governmental organizations

Nongovernmental organizations

Industry

Companies

  • Advaced Plasma Power (UK) uses a two-stage gasification process to convert dried organic waste is into H-rich gas, which can be burnt as a power source (e.g. in cars). The remaining soot & ash can be solidified into a material stronger than granite and can be used as a building material.
  • Oxford Catalysts Plc. Company specializing in catalysts for the production of clean fuels, both biological and traditional petrochemicals.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roads/environment/rtfo/
  2. Government scraps duty on biofuel production


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